Posted by: G-AZZI | December 10, 2010

A Beautiful Encounter

Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport

Image by Mohammad Reza Hassani via Flickr

Yesterday, I was at the airport looking at the arrival screen; my friend’s plane had just landed and he was about to come out.

A nice lady holding a red rose came towards me.

“Bonsoir,” she said.

“Bonsoir.” I was expecting her to ask me if the Lufthansa passengers had come out yet.

“I saw you on TV.”


“I am waiting for a friend. I saw you, and I wanted to talk to you… I really appreciate the work Helem is doing.”

“Thank you, that is really sweet and encouraging.”

After a short awkward silence, she continued: “Do you want to know why I like your work?”


“Because my son is gay.”

Not knowing how to reply, I just smiled, probably because I did not expect to have this conversation there, and at the airport out of all places.

That was not a hindrance, however. She went on, “When he first told me, my first reaction was to tell him it was okay, that he was my son and that I accepted him. But then I went through phases of sadness, followed by anger, which eventually led to my getting really sick. To top it off, my best friend stopped talking to me when she knew my son was gay. These were two shocks in a short period of time. I saw a psychologist to help me get over this. He was really helpful; he told me about Helem, and I spent a lot of time reading on the internet about homosexuality. I was too afraid to go to Helem because I did not want anyone to know about my son. At some point though, I finally called Helem’s hotline, and I met with the social worker in a coffee shop. He gave me a booklet, Ou7ebohom wa Lakin…” It was helpful” […] “You will probably laugh at me, but I stood outside a gay bar once, and outside Zicco House another time when Helem was organizing a party; I wanted to see how gay people looked.”

We both laughed, but it was such a sweet and genuine thing to say.

She was feeling more at ease, and she said the next bit with a smile on her face: “At that time, I said to myself: You drink like everyone else, you have fun like everyone else, and you look like everyone else…”

I did not want to say anything; I was enjoying this beautiful monologue and I did not want her to stop, but I was curious, and I asked her, “So how do you feel about it now?”

“Oh, I love my son, and I want him to be happy. Of course I wish he would have children, he is my only son…”

She was quiet and looked thoughtful for about ten seconds, then decided, “You know what? I don’t care. Who said success is about having children? He is a successful […], I am proud of what he has achieved, and he will probably adopt a child with his boyfriend… I don’t know, I have heard about successful gay artists, scientists, fashion designers, and my son is one of those people… I still wouldn’t want the rest of the family to know that he is gay though – not because I am ashamed, but because they are not educated, they are stupid – here she laughs – why would I waste my time trying to explain to them, they are not bothering my son…”

At that moment, my friend arrived, and the conversation was interrupted. She gave me a big hug and her phone number. “Please let me know if there is any mother who needs help or support. I am willing to do it.”

It is moments like these where one feels how inspirational is the will to never give up the fight. It was such a precious moment which I honestly never expected to have while waiting at Beirut international Airport.



  1. 🙂

    again, i can’t ‘like’ this unless i have WordPress..i like this post though.

  2. Great story. Thank you for sharing. Touching

  3. awww :’) that is so sweet!

  4. j’ai eu la chair de poule. et georges, quelle excellente idee: pourquoi on ne lui demanderai pas d’organiser un groupe de parole pour parents dans le cadre de marsa, assistee de social worker?

  5. Once Again… I’m so touched by Your stories / articles Georges!
    Thank you for sharing with us, this article!
    this shows us, that mature activism is really reaching it’s objective! so let’s hope we all focus on 1 perspective, which is how to change our society without any dogmas, per-judges and even hate behaviors.
    i think we should all start activists or not, try to prepare how to use this mother’s supportive message! and why not having a mother’s gathering…
    where mom’s can share, talk, meet! i believe this would be a great supportive background for the LGBT childs and community!

  6. All the good things happen to you :p heheh am kidding, its really cheering, am sure you have enjoyed every single letter coming out of her mouth, if you ever meet her again give her a big hug from me

  7. Mon cher Georges,
    Excellente histoire, et je tiens a te remercier et remercier tous les activistes qui ont travaille sur le sujet de l’homosexualite au Liban depuis 2004 et meme avant. C’est grace aux efforts de tous ces gens la que nous arriverons, je suis sur, a enlever cette stigmatisation.

  8. ca m’a donne la chair de poule… comme tu le dis: ce sont des moments comme ca qui nous font oublier toutes les betises, les desillusions et la fatigue.
    Ce que tu as fait, en parlant a visage decouvert en public et sur les plateaux televises, etait pionnier et le restera pour toujours. Tu resteras aux yeux de beaucoup de personnes LGBT, un heros: une sorte de voix salvatrice ou un visage qui les a rassure qu’ils ne sont pas seuls au monde.
    C’est lourd a porter, je le sais… et ca s’est fait au prix de nombreux sacrifices au titre de ta vie personnelle et professionnelle.
    Tu as ose et tu l’a fait… et rien pour ca, tout mon respect… bisou

  9. How sweet!Oh i wish she’d talk to MY mom…

  10. “like”

  11. Love this story!
    I think it shows that anyone can accept homosexuality just if they try a little bit. Homophobia in Lebanon reflects the fast that everyone is too lazy or too busy to understand this.

    Thanks for sharing! This story gave me courage and hope. Coming out to my parents is something that always freaked me out because they are older, they grew up in a different society.

    But this shows how Lebanon is evolving and how everyone is becoming more and more open-minded! 🙂

  12. Another blogger here who LOVES this post! It’s the kind of encounter that can make an entire life of hard work and activism come to life! Really inspiring…

  13. That is one sweet mom! Her son should be proud of her as she is proud of him.
    10x for posting.

  14. Inspiring, touching and motivational…I like this woman!
    Thanks for sharing and really wishing to have such a hard working and determined team like Helem all over the MENA region!

    I stopped volunteering at an NGO against STI/HIV/AIDS for not accepting to hold gay volonteers among it’s’s so shameful.

  15. That’s really sweet. If only all relatives and mothers could come to such conclusions.
    Hopefully it made you reflect on the work that you have done, and to continue positive change for the future.

  16. This is such a lovely story!! as you say, it keeps us going.

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